June 2005 News

Hardliners are irrelevant: APHC

5 June 2005
The Daily Times
Shahzad Raza and Mohammad Imran

Islamabad: The exclusion of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and jihadi outfits from the ongoing peace process would not have any adverse effects on it, the visiting All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) delegation observed on Sunday.Maulana Abbas Ansari and Bilal Ghani Lone told Daily Times the 'individuals' who did not wish to support the peace process should come out of their belief that their absence would obstruct the process.Another APHC leader Abdul Ghani Bhatt supported their point of view but said it would be better if jihadi outfits were also involved in the dialogue process.'There are two types of people in our society - the people who represent the brighter side of a picture and the people who represent the darker side,' Bhatt added.He said there had always been a conflict of interests among forces acting in different directions. 'But remember, only those who go with the growing current of history and understand the dynamics of change, reach their destination. And those who don't, perish,' he observed.Bhatt said the APHC leaders would meet the Indian leadership and brief it about their visit to Islamabad. He hoped that their visit would strengthen the ongoing peace process.Asked if Syed Ali Geelani had the support of the majority of people in held Kashmir, he said that Geelani did not represent all segments of Kashmiri society.He dismissed the impression that Kashmiris would not accept any solution to the dispute if Geelani and Syed Salahuddin, chairman of United Jihad Council, were not involved in the dialogue process.'Both of them do not enjoy the support of the Kashmiri people. They are not popular leaders, so their absence from the process will not create any problems,' he said.He admitted that an armed Kashmiri freedom struggle, started in 1988, had brought the Kashmir dispute into the limelight and forced the international community to try to help find a solution to the dispute.Lone said everyone involved in the freedom struggle played a role. 'We cannot say that one or two individuals played a role. Or only because of the armed struggle the issue was highlighted at international forums,' he added.Asked to comment on a split in the Hurriyat, he said 'The APHC is a forum of political parties and they might have differences with one another. And it happens everywhere in the world.'Maulana Ansari, former chairman of the APHC, claimed that he had started the armed struggle before Salahuddin - famous for his militant activities in the held Kashmir - was born. 'But the world has changed after 9-11-. Now the time has come to settle issues through meaningful dialogue,' he added.He claimed that Geelani and Salahuddin represented only a minority of Kashmiris. 'Their absence would not make any difference. If they are not involved in the forthcoming dialogue, there is nothing to worry about.'


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